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Mr. Darcy's Missing Bride Graphic

Chapter 4

Note: These chapters are from the unedited first draft and are subject to change in the final draft. Read at your own risk. 

I must be in love.

When I look into Miss Elizabeth’s dark eyes, I am captured. In her gaze, I see my heart, and I am swept away. Miss Elizabeth is the balm that assuages my loneliness. When we are together, I am at peace, and we are one.

But how do I tell her? And when?

From the Personal Journal of Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy

 

Fitzwilliam Darcy sat in the library, a cup of lukewarm coffee on a small table beside him. He was tired, and it was only mid-morning. Unofficial courting could do that, and he had his hands full with Miss Elizabeth Bennet.

Ignoring his need to kiss her, to love her completely and with great passion, took its toll. He reminded himself he did this to protect her. Elizabeth was not one to heed warnings of brigands or abduction. She had told him as much the first and only time he had attempted to broach the subject.

As to the rest…

Though he admired Miss Elizabeth Bennet, and she did not act as a social climber, he had to be certain of her affection. Too many ladies’ interests stemmed from his inheritance and lands.

Including his aunt’s ambitions for Anne.

Darcy rubbed his palm over his forehead. He wished Bingley were here. Not that Bingley had any sense when judging women.

No, better Bingley was absent.

“Darcy, there you are.” Richard Fitzwilliam strode into the library. “We have a problem.”

“The brigands?”

“I believe the issue is more than simple brigands.”

Darcy yawned. “I apologize.” He sipped his coffee. “You said ladies were being accosted, their jewels stolen.”

“Yes, and a servant was abducted. Which is the crux of the problem. Miss Emily Davis was not seized from a carriage! According to those the constable and I questioned, going by foot to meet with a local fruit-seller who often allowed her to ride on his wagon with the vegetables when she visited her mother on her half-days.

“Perhaps the fruit-seller was involved?”

“Doubtful. He waited until dusk for her arrival, and others in the villagers confirmed it, before returning to his home. And the fruit seller showed genuine distress at Miss Davis’ disappearance. Worse, she is not the only servant gone missing these past few months.”

“Servants run away.”

“Attractive young maids, many of whom rumored to be overly close with their male employers?” Richard sighed. “Something in this sits ill.”

Darcy nodded. Likely the young maids were given a sum and sent off to raise their bastards before the evidence of the gentleman’s infidelity became obvious. While such behavior disgusted Darcy, it was not uncommon in his class. Darcy, having seen the consequence of his father’s failure on his family, vowed never to allow himself such a weakness.

If the missing women were servants, then likely they had run off abducted, and Elizabeth was safe. Thus Darcy no longer had an excuse to keep happening upon her during her morning walks.

“There is something more sinister afoot,” Richard declared. “We must speak with and warn Lady Catherine’s servants and those of the village.”

“Are you certain this is necessary?” Darcy asked.

“I am certain of nothing. But my gut tells me something is wrong. And that instinct has kept me alive thus far. You will need to speak with Aunt Catherine. If I ask, she may ignore me, but she denies you nothing.”

“I will.” Darcy did not doubt his cousin’s instincts. When they were children, he had snatched Darcy back from crossing the log over the stream, as they had done countless times throughout that summer.

A minute later, after they had climbed down to the bank to determine how to cross, that branch had broken. Darcy would have broken a leg or his neck, if he had crossed that day.

Richard clapped a hand on Darcy’s shoulder. “Good. And I will warn the Collins’ and their guests, Miss Lucas and Miss Bennet.”

Darcy’s expression froze at the mention of Elizabeth’s name. It was only a moment, but Richard’s eyes narrowed. “I see.”

“There is nothing for you to see.”

“It is not Miss Lucas, I presume.”

“No!”

Richard smiled. “Aunt Catherine will be appalled.”

Darcy shrugged. Aunt Catherine was often appalled. 

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Compromised. Abducted. Rescued?

What if Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy met not at Hertfordshire but Hunsford? Rather than unwitting insults, they court in secret while exploring the grounds. It is perfect until the couple is caught in a compromising position. Will a forced engagement and a missing bride-to-be derail their love?

Find out in Mr. Darcy’s Missing Bride, Book 1 of the Power of Darcy’s Love series. Mr. Darcy’s Missing Bride is a sweet, suspenseful romance of 30,000 words with a guaranteed happy ending.

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Mr. Darcy’s Missing Bride – Prologue

Thirst. Elizabeth that she had never truly been thirsty before. Before, drinking happened without a second thought; a servant was called, and Elizabeth drank. Now, her tongue lay like dry dough in her mouth. Elizabeth ran her fingers along the damp, stone floor. Her chained leg clinked with her movement. The links ran to an iron ring nailed into the wall, too dark and too far away to see.

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Mr. Darcy’s Missing Bride – Chapter 1

It was early morning, and the sun was resplendent, its rays coloring the budding floral displays and grasslands that appointed the gardens of Rosings. Elizabeth Bennet delighted in the patches of warm sunlight on her skin. It was the edge of summer, the end of spring and the weather was at its best: not too hot or cold, but warmth touching the earth and encouraging the flowers to bloom.

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Mr. Darcy’s Missing Bride – Chapters 2

“My nephew always makes dining that much more lively,” Lady Catherine de Bourgh waved her handkerchief at the two men seated at her table. She was making a point to the guests in attendance: Mr. and Mrs. Collins and Elizabeth Bennet. “My daughter, Anne, is always so excited to see Mr. Darcy, aren’t you my dear?” She inclined her head at a pale, young woman sitting next to her at the table. Anne gave a half-hearted smile in return.

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Mr. Darcy’s Missing Bride – Chapters 3

Book in hand, Elizabeth headed to her favorite reading nook, a small tree at the top of a hill, fifteen minutes or so from Charlotte’s house. Maria did not wake before eleven in the morning unless prodded, and Charlotte had insisted Elizabeth feel comfortable walking about wherever she wished in the morning, with or without her friend who preferred less active morning pursuits. While it impressed Elizabeth with how well Charlotte managed Mr. Collins, she could not imagine such a life for herself. Elizabeth wished to marry for love.

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Mr. Darcy’s Missing Bride – Chapters 7

Lady Catherine de Bourgh paced the length of her library, clasping Mr. Collins’ all too delighted missive of two full pages. She was not gauche enough to reduce herself to foul language, instead detailing Miss Elizabeth Bennet’s lowly status – the daughter of a baronet with her family estate entailed – and the clear faults in her character, which the young lady made no efforts to correct.

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Mr. Darcy’s Missing Bride – Chapters 10

“What do you mean, she left?” Mr. Darcy was nearly shouting as he stood in the middle of the parsonage’s drawing room. On his uncle’s name, he had received an audience with the Archbishop that morning and, Special License in hand had returned to make a proper proposal.

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Mr. Darcy’s Missing Bride – Chapters 11

The rocking of the carriage and the drawn shades gave Elizabeth the feeling that she was in her own world, the outside blew asunder on its own axis. The trip to London was long, not as lengthy as the trip to Longbourn, but this road was choppier than she recalled.

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Mr. Darcy’s Missing Bride – Chapters 12

Under normal circumstances, Mr. Darcy had patience with his aunt. He sat through her tirades about one piece of society gossip or another, or her condescension of the servants, the abhorrent state of the grounds or some supposed slight in her life.

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Mr. Darcy’s Missing Bride – Chapters 14

It was past nine when Mr. Darcy arrived at his London town house. He could not, with any politeness, pay call to a lady at her home after dark, as much as he might wish. Besides, if she was angry, which she had a right to be considering the liberties he had taken with her on their last walk, he would better make his explanations in the light of morning when both had occasion to sleep.

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Mr. Darcy’s Missing Bride – Chapters 15

Days later, back in the Gardiner’s drawing room, Darcy struggled not to lose hope. He and Richard had questioned Lady Catherine’s coachman who revealed the Lady had hired men and a carriage for Miss Elizabeth.

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Mr. Darcy’s Missing Bride – Chapters 16

Mr. Gardiner was waiting when Mr. Darcy arrived with Col. Fitzwilliam at his home the next morning. They sat in the breakfast nook over rolls and preserves with tea while they informed Mr. Gardiner on what Philips had told him the night before.

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Mr. Darcy’s Missing Bride – Chapters 19

Elizabeth sat in a small boat on a still pond tethered to a wooden dock. The tether was very long, and thus, the boat drifted to the middle. Mist obscured everything beyond the pond’s banks and dock. Every direction she looked was mist, and because it shrouded everything, she felt safe.

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Mr. Darcy’s Missing Bride – Chapters 20

Darcy was exhausted, having spent much of the evening pacing between his bed and the library, choosing and then discarding books he hoped would Elizabeth smile. Nothing he said or did would change what happened to his beloved, and that he had not protected her weighed heavily.

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Mr. Darcy’s Missing Bride – Epilogue

“It is not enough.” Richard pressed his index fingers at the bridge of his nose. He and Mr. Darcy stood in Mr. Gardiner’s study with Mr. Gardiner and Mr. Bennet. Mr. Gardiner sat at his desk with Mr. Bennet in a chair on the opposite side. Two glasses of port sat atop it, the one closest to Mr. Bennet half-empty.

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